Monday, November 19, 2012

Vegan Forever

About 2 months ago, I decided to embark on this wild & crazy adventure--a vegan adventure!  After some friends mentioned their success on the Engine 2 Diet, I decided to try it for myself.  Being the skeptic that I am, I wasn't just going to see what happened.  I needed documentation.  So, I went to the doctor and had some basic blood work done. 

That was the first eye-opener.  For a fairly young mother of four, who exercises semi-regularly, and has even done crazy things like running a half-marathon; I was not as fit as my body tried to tell me!  My beginning numbers looked like this:

  • Weight--149 pounds
  • Height--5ft 4in
  • Glucose--99
  • Triglyceride--88
  • Cholesterol--197
  • LDL--131
  • HDL--52
  • BMI--25.6 (overweight)
While these numbers are well within the "normal" range*, I have recently witnessed the horribly painful death of someone very close to me because of poor heart health.  I definitely understand that you cannot predict the day or time that you die, and that it is futile to try to prevent your body from aging.  But, I also firmly believe that we were given these earthly bodies as a gift from God, and we are to care for them like we do anything else on this earth--to the best of our abilities. 

*And, anyone who knows me also knows that I'm just not very good at accepting the "normal" label. 

I tried this Engine 2 Diet for 7 1/2 weeks, and I liked it.  Now, there were some recipes that we are definitely NOT trying again.  I did find some that are now weekly dinners, and I have some others that I can go to in a pinch.  I have even become confident enough to look at recipes online and find the ones that apply to the way I want to eat.  (I'm not quite to the point of being able to craft my own recipes, but I might be willing to attempt one soon!)

After my time was up, I went back to the doctor to have my bloodwork redrawn.  Because my glucose was normal and the insurance wouldn't pay for a new test, I just did the lipid profile.  When the PA called with the test results, she was obviously excited.  Not only had I lost weight, but my choloesterol had dropped significantly.  So, for those who are interested, these are my NEW, shiny numbers:

  • Weight--134 pounds
  • Height--5ft 4in
  • Glucose--***
  • Triglyceride--34
  • Cholesterol--148
  • LDL--96
  • HDL--47
  • BMI--23.0 (Healthy)
My plan was to try this "diet" for a month, maybe two.  I think a better plan might be for me just to make a change in my life to accomodate some healthy eating.  My body is telling me it just might be worth it!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

You Don't Eat Meat?!?!

A few weeks ago, some friends of mine were posting absolutely yummilicious recipes on Facebook.  So yummy that I was inspired to start asking some questions.  These weren't your regular, butter & cream, Southern recipes that I was used to seeing.  These included words like vegan, flourless, and heart-healthy.  So, I did some research. 
It turns out that my friends had tried a diet called the Engine 2 Diet.
First of all, let me say that this is NOT some fad diet.  It is a plant-based, whole foods, meat products-free, heart healthy diet.  People have done this for years--they're the crunchy ones that everyone looks at strangely.  Doctors have promoted this for years--the author's father is actually a notable cardiologist who makes a convincing argument.  Even Biblical figures have used this diet--think Daniel refusing the king's meat!

I didn't want this to be some rash decision that I just jumped into so I asked my husband to read the book.  My carnivore husband. Imagine my shock and surprise when he agreed with the author and even agreed to try this new diet with me ("It's only for 28 days!")  We decided this would just be a family event, and we promoted it to the kiddos who were fairly enthusiastic.

We spent our last meat-filled week "cleaning out" our cabinets and refrigerator of all the bad foods mentioned in the book.  (And by cleaning out, I mean eating them up because my family doesn't like to throw food away!)  I also went to my family PA, and I asked her to get me some basic numbers (Height, Weight, Blood Sugar, Total Cholesterol, HDL, LDL, Triglycerides).  Then, I printed out a Week One menu and shopping list from the website, and off to Whole Foods I went.

I'm not gonna lie. That first week was pricey! I spent about 2 1/2 times our normal weekly grocery budget, but I had anticipated a pretty big price jump.  What I didn't realize is that we didn't use some of that stuff.  Some of the recipes on the site included soy, and we had opted to keep the soy out of our diet.  Also, after making some of the recipes, we decided that we won't be making them again!  We have found lots of ways that we can alter our "regular" recipes to make them vegan, and we've also found tons of great new recipes that we love.

After some encouragement from some of my friends to blog about my adventure, I decided to start writing about my daily struggles and victories during this "diet".  The biggest thing so far has been explaining to people what we're doing.  When we say we've given up meat and are eating whole foods, the answer is always, "You don't eat meat?! You have to eat meat! Your body can't survive without meat!"

You don't realize how ingrained it is for Americans to eat heavily processed foods including meat products.  The first week I sort of missed some of our regular foods, but the newness of the adventure was still there.  The second week, I realized that I was eating really great food, and I didn't miss that stuff as much.  The third week, it made me almost physically ill to walk down some of the aisles in the grocery store and realize how much of that food was not only not very tasty, but also dangerously bad for my body. 

I've realize that my way of thinking is changing, and my body is changing, too!  I guess that means this "diet" is working.  I'm three weeks into it, but I plan on doing it full-force for at least six weeks.  After that, I'm hoping to keep it up as much as possible, but we will see with the holidays rapidly approaching.  I'll end this post with my beginning stats, and I'll try to update as much as possible.  Leave me a comment and tell me the things you'd like for me to tell you or questions that you might have!

  • Weight--149 pounds
  • Height--5ft 4in
  • Glucose--99
  • Triglyceride--88
  • Cholesterol--197
  • LDL--131
  • HDL--52
  • BMI--25.6 (overweight)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Getting Fit

Last year, in June, I posted about my goals of running a few 5ks and my desire to lose weight.  I half-hearted did it the last part of June and some of July, but in August, something inside of me clicked.  I honestly cannot tell you what it was, but I knew that if I was EVER going to do anything for my health, it would have to be NOW.

So, on August 15th, I started the C25K (Couch to 5k) plan.  I worked the whole plan, sometimes repeating a week so I could catch up.  I finished it, and I ran my first 5k for real in 40 minutes.  I realized I loved running, and my husband realized I was serious.  What a strange combination!

I lost 20 pounds in the process, and I began sleeping better and eating better.  It was a natural progression, and it just morphed into a total lifestyle change. 

In 2012, I ran a 5k in January, and a 10k in Febuary.  I was supposed to run a 15k in March, but for personal reasons, I had a friend run that race for me.  I did, however, finish my first half-marathon on April 29th in 2 hours and 40 minutes.  You'd think after all that running that I would be done.

Not anywhere close!!

I did take a running break to relax a little and catch up with my kids, but I'm back on track now.  I'm doing some of the last half of my half-marathon training program, and I'll start my marathon training during the next month.

Yes, I said (typed) MARATHON.

26.2 miles.....not meters.....miles

One year ago, I would never have imagined that I could run a marathon (and there are definitely days that I still have my doubts!)  But, I am going to try.  I'm so excited and scared. 

I'm so thankful for all the runners who have encouraged me along the way.  They say that running is a solitary sport, and it is.  But, while you may physically run alone, you never run alone.  It is very difficult to stay motivated and on-track all by yourself.  Thankfully, the running community is filled with people who are always willing to give a "Good job!", "Way to go!" or "You can do this!" at just the needed time!

I'm also thankful for my non-running friends who have encouraged me even though they think they could "never do it" (even though I'm sure most of the could. After all, I did!)  Not one time did anyone tell me that I was wasting my time or that I wouldn't succeed.  All those fears I had about myself were just in my head.  No one ever spoke those things I thought about myself. (Do you think there's some sort of lesson there?!)

Now, I'm going to name some names!

First, I had an awesome race partner, CJ.  I've known her since high school, and she's an awesome motivator and friend.  I could not have finished any of my races this year without her--she's awesome.

Second, my family is beyond words.  My Mom & Dad totally supported me running.  Babysitting for long runs or races was always ok, and they always had Academy gift cards so I could buy running gear.  My husband, Kevin, was a little hesitant at first, but he is ALWAYS 100% supportive!  And my beautiful children, Abi, Hannah, Connor, & Jada, are the absolute best cheerleaders!!

Third, I have friends online and in real life that offered the kindest words of encouragement.  Katie Cook (who ran the marathon when I did the half), Stefanie Shockley, Tara, Brette & Joel, Mary Ellen, Amanda, Lucretia, Connie, Amber, Tammy, Chandelle, Crystal, Jennifer, Jenn, Shannon, Cassie, Laura, Charlie, Deborah, and all the other "Sistas" whose names I cannot always remember. 

I have a few people that I consider running "mentors".  Some I have never met. Some inspired me to begin running.  Some I met after I began running, but they have encouraged me to keep pushing myself to new challenges.  So, Jenn & Barbie, we will meet some day and run together! Jodie, you'll always be younger (& probably faster), but I'll race with you any day! Erin Henderson, I am totally rooting for you to qualify in 2016!  Jason Butler, we don't live that far from each other and we are bound to finally meet at a race this year, but you are going to do awesome in Boston!

What about you?  Are you running? Swimming? Encouraging? Being encouraged?  Let me know about your goals and mentors.

Fading Scars

One year ago (and a few days), I posted about a vicious storm that ripped through my area.  I showed the pictures of the devastion just one-quarter mile from my home.  I spoke of the faith and generosity of the people in this area that jumped to help one another.  What an amazing and terrifying time!

Now, it is one year later.  New homes sit where the old ones had been wiped away. Storm shelters are inside or outside most of the new houses. The trees are green and so is the grass.  A new oil rig sits whirring every hour of the day (much to the annoyance of the neighbors--me included!)  It seems as though healing has begun....

And it has, but...

There are scars.  Lots of 'em.

There are the trees that will never have leaves again.  There are the expanses of land that still have no grass--just a fine covering of topsoil where the grass was sucked from the ground.  There are the giant balls of twisted metal that no one has had time to remove from the pastures.

Then, there are the people.  Some were injured physically during the storm, but they all have a mental battle to fight.

Storms don't stop in Oklahoma.  Just last week, while at the ball game, my kids and I had to race to the van and drive the opposite way of the house just to avoid a hail storm.  When you've weathered a tornado, you might think you wouldn't be afraid any more, but it doesn't quite work that way. 

Anytime someone faces a major battle in life, there are scars.  It doesn't matter if it is physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, God gives a reminder--a memorial, so to speak--of the battle that was fought.  In Joshua chapter 4, God has the Israelites make a memorial of stones in the place where they crossed into the Promised Land.  God gives us these scars as a reminder of the work He has done in our lives.  Some reminders everyone can see, like the place where the metal has sliced open a man's head.  Some reminders no one can see, like the memory of that loved one that was ripped from your arms by the twirling wind.

Some scars never change, but most begin to fade with the passing of time. 

As I drive by the properties affected by last year's storm, I pray that God will let me use the scars in my life as a memorial for all the work He has done in the last year.  So many things, so many lessons, so many reasons to praise Him for His faithfulness.  In every situation, His hand was upon me. I pray for the families who deal daily with the scars from this particular storm, and I pray for those whose scars cannot be seen.  "Treat everyone you meet with the love of Christ for you do not know the battle they are fighting."  seems so appropriate when I'm reminded of the grace and mercy that people have shown me during my battles this year. 

Do you have scars?  Visible?  Invisible?  I pray that you will not see them as a reminder of all that is bad that you experienced in life, but as a reminder of the ways that God has worked in your life.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Blogging Bug

I really should blog more often!  I want to, and then I forget. Or, I get too busy.  Or, I think someone won't want to read what I have to say.  Whatever the reason, I tend to put it off.  One of my goals last year was to write more, and it is still very much a goal of mine.  I have managed to conquer most of my goals from last year so I'm just going to carry this one for awhile and keep plugging away at it!

So much has happened since the first of this year, since my last post even.  I am going to try to organize my thoughts just a bit before I type them all out.  Even with that bit of organization, I'm sure I'll be all over the place with my posts.  Just bear with me, and I'll try not to be too random with my writing.  (I hope!)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Meal-Planning: "How do you do it?"

I LOVE to plan things: baby showers, birthday parties, youth rallies, meals, etc.  Almost NOTHING goes according to "the plan", but there is something therapeutic to me about the planning itself.  I try to make what I call "flexible plans".  You have everything available if the plan is going right, but, if it's not, you can change things up in an instant for Plan B (or C, D, or the rest of the alphabet--depending on the the day!)

I've often talked to my friends and family about doing weekly, monthly, and (most recently) yearly meal-planning.  I love knowing that a few hours of quiet planning results in less stress throughout the rest of the year for me.  When I first saw the idea on another blog, I was a little intimidated. "Meal plan for a year? I don't even know for sure what I'm doing in 3 days, much less in 3 months!!"  It's not really as hard as it sounds, so I'll tell you how I do it.

(DISCLAIMER: This is how I do it, and how it works for our family.  If you are completely intimated by this, hate to plan, or don't want to do it, DON'T! If it's not something that you can work with or that will work in your family dynamic, then it isn't worth the time involved to do it.  If you want to do it for a week, two weeks, or a month; try that first.  The important thing is to find what works for you (the cook) and your family.  You can take this whole plan, part of this plan, or none of this plan, and still figure out a workable option for your situation. Trust me!)

I used to menu plan for two weeks because the paychecks came every two weeks. (Pretty smart, huh?!) Then, I decided to go for a month.  Even though I grocery shop weekly or bi-weekly, the menu was already planned.  I stumbled across a blog on Pinterest that had a yearly menu-planning guide (with free printables--SCORE!) so I decided to try it. 

Here is my menu binder with the printables I found on

It's just a plain binder with one of bold turquoise's neat printables on the front.  Inside are plastic sleeves with monthly calendars.  I sat down at the beginning of February (We're going to forget about January because I didn't find all this stuff until February.) and looked at our general schedule.  We generally eat more crock pot meals, soups, stews, and chili's during the colder months.  We eat more fresh fruit, fresh veggies, and grilled meats during the hotter months.   The kids' birthdays all fall around the same time each year (Imagine that!) so I have a general idea when the party will be.  Our church has a mission's conference and a revival during the year where we have dinner at church every night.  We usually know about the time we'll be taking vacation or going away to visit family for a weekend.  The same holds true for the major holidays.  Our family is very habitual--Independence, Memorial, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving Day, we're home.  Christmas Day, we're away.  See, it's easy to plan.  I may not know the exact date of each event when I do my planning, but I can tweak things as they get closer. Besides, if you've planned something, and you end up away from home, you can always fix that meal for someone else (a shut-in, new parents, someone who's just had surgery, or "just because" you want to bless someone.) 

I basically have between 30 and 50 meals that I have memorized or have the recipes for (that I can cook and my family can eat.)  Thanks to the generous gifts of my friends and family, I also have subscriptions to Runner's World, Better Homes & Gardens, and Eating Well (Thank goodness for new recipes when the old ones get boring!!)  I simply write a recipe down on each space on the calendar.  Yes, recipes get repeated! Some get repeated monthly because they are that good!  My family has their favorites so I try to make them more often, but I try not to repeat a meal twice in a month. 

Some recipes are painfully simple: Tacos=meat, taco seasoning, shells or tortillas, fixings. No recipe required!  Some are a little more difficult, but none are top-chef worthy feats.  I try to keep things healthy, but during times like softball season, Frito chili pie wins every time on a busy night.  We're learning to eat more fish and less cheese (Moment of silence, please.........) I rarely fry foods, but when I do, it's homemade fried; not some processed blob from a bag.

This is my major project for this year--my recipe book:

That's it.  It really is that easy.  Nothing is set in stone.  It is a plan, not a contract.  You have an idea of what you are going to cook, but you can always change it.  Hubby goes out of town, and you're left with the kids? Order pizza!  Every one's sick for three days?  Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup, it is!  You might think it's a waste of time if you aren't going to stick to it, or even a waste of paper.  Even if you only use it 50% of the time, it is well worth it.  I'd say we stick to ours about 95% of the time, just because it's so easy for me just to see what I'm supposed to be cooking instead of having to make a decision.  Try it, and let me know how it goes!

Happy planning, everyone!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Fish Tacos!!!

My husband bugged me for months to try fish tacos, but I hesitated because it sounded so.....fishy.  I looked at a couple of recipes on the internet, but none caught my eye (mostly because they all seemed so fatty and unhealthy.)  One day, he opened his Muscle & Fitness magazine (whole other post, I know!!), and said, "We are making these tomorrow!" So, I tried the recipe, tweaked it a little, and now we have a family fave!  I'm going to try not to comment, and just give you the recipe straight.  Here goes:

6-8 frozen tilapia filets
salt & pepper
1 avacado
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup cilantro
1 Tbsp sambol or Sri Racha
1 cup shredded cabbage
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
Flour or whole wheat tortillas

Thaw the fish, and cut into 6 inch pieces.  Salt & pepper, and place in a non-stick baking pan.  Cook for 10-12 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

While the fish is cooking, mix the avacado, tomatoes, cilantro, and Sri Racha.  Blend together until creamy.

Once the fish is cooked, place it on warmed tortillas.  Top with cabbage, spicy guacamole, and sliced onions.  No cheese necessary, but you can add it if you like (along with sour cream or salsa, if you prefer.)  We love these without the added cheese and sour cream.  Oh, so yummy, and healthy too!!
Disclaimer:  The photo is the original photo from the Sept 2011 issue of M & F.  I take horrible food photos, and I ate all the fish tacos before I could even attempt a picture today.  The original recipe (before my tweaking) was from Chef Robert Irvine. Now, you can return to your scheduled programming.

Why Wait? Update!

I felt the sudden urge to blog today (with a little encouragement from a friend!)  Imagine my surprise, when I looked at my blog, and I realized that I haven't written anything since June--7 1/2 months!! It's amazing how time flies, and we don't realize the things we have put aside.  God has been doing some wonderful work in my life, and I have found some new hobbies and books to hold my interest.
My last post in June was to set some new goals.  How have I done?  Let's see.....
  1. Get outside (weather permitting) or get on the floor and play with my kids for 30 minutes more every day. I'd say I'm doing pretty good with this one.  The kids and I are reading together, playing together, and even cooking together.  I love this time with my kids more than almost anything!
  2. Eat a salad with at least one meal a day, plus all my other veggies. I've definitely been doing this one, and I can tell the difference in how I feel each day.  Eating healthy can be tasty, but it does require some preparation! Luckily, once you get going, you have more energy to do the preparing and the planning.  It's a win/win cycle!
  3. Run a 5k this year (maybe two), and get a schedule set for next year. (Have to start running 3x's a week to obtain this goal. Gonna need some help!!) YES! I ran two 5ks last year, and I've already run one this year.  I have a 10k, a 15k, and a half-marathon scheduled also.  I'm running 3-4 times a week, and I've lost 20 pounds.  It has been a great thing for me physically, emotionally, mentally, but most of all, spiritually.  I truly love to run!
  4. Start writing once a week (blog, book, anything to keep my writing skills up.) Um, this is a definite FAIL!  While I have been doing some sporadic writing, I definitely haven't kept up with my blog or written once a week.  I'm not giving up, though.  After all, I'm writing now, aren't I?
  5. Spend at least one hour a week devoted to the ministries that I am personally involved with at my church (calling my class, working on lessons, tending to the classroom, writing cards, etc.) I have been able to do this, and it is such a blessing to me!  If you don't have the privilege of serving others in any type of ministry, you should find one.  You would be surprised at how much it will bless your heart.  Seems a little backward, doesn't it?  You get the blessing when you are serving others?  Well, if you aren't trying to get something out of it, but are trying to be a blessing to others; you almost always get a more wonderful blessing yourself.  It's God's amazing way of showing us how His ways are above our ways. (Isaiah 55:8) And I'm so thankful for that!
That tells you a little about what's been going on in my life lately.  I pray that each of my friends are having a wonderful start to the New Year, and that God is blessing in each of your lives!